Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.


  • 08/31/2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    Crystal Morton became a math educator because she had great math teachers as a student. But after entering the classroom as a high school teacher in North Carolina, she realized her experience made her the exception, not the norm. “A lot of Black girls were in my slower-paced class who should have been in the honors class. When I would inquire why they hadn’t been accelerated, it was so often about ‘her attitude’ or White teachers saying ‘I can’t teach her.’”

    Morton detected that this wasn’t due to a deficiency in the students, but a failure on the part of educators to see those students as full human beings and allow them to be their full selves. She witnessed students being pressured to conform to the norms that didn’t align with their identity, desires, or spirits.

    As Morton describes it, she “ran from teaching” into computer science for a brief period, then stepped back into the fray and got her Ph.D. in Education. “No one ever talks about teaching as a STEM career. I can’t even call it a gap because it’s too big for that. But education is a science. And if we want to eliminate diversity disparities in all STEM fields, it starts with more diverse teachers who are actually happy and excited to be teachers and who believe in the brilliance of all learners.”

    Dr. Morton explains that diverse educators are essential because they help more diverse students feel welcomed and represented in class. “I lived through that reality as a teacher, and then in graduate school. I got to put data and numbers behind the working systemic racism in K-12 educational spaces.” In her current role as Associate Professor of Math Education and Coordinator of Urban Education Studies Ph.D. Program at IUPUI, Morton has been ecstatic to be surrounded by a diverse community of educators. “IUPUI School of Education is the place to be,” she says plainly. “Here, I have been able to grow as a scholar who researches the teaching and learning of Black girls without having to justify my research focus. That support, in turn, helps me stay strong against outside critics.”

    Overall, she says the experience of Black students in the K-12 space, or even college, hasn’t changed much. “I still have the same conversations with parents and students now that I did in 2001-2004. There are times at all levels of education that students of color, or female students, are downright dehumanized for failing to conform to the expectations rooted in systemic bias and racism. It’s heartbreaking. Sure, there are more add-on supports available,” she allows. “But what isn’t happening is the necessary change in the atmosphere and environment itself.”

    Like many strong women, Crystal resolved to create her own space when the traditional environment was not welcoming to her or the students she wanted to serve. Founding the Girls STEM Institute, she designed a program for young women of color “to have an opportunity to engage in STEM that also fully focused on and encouraged their specific wellness and well-being, whatever that means for them.” In seeking to promote this program and engage young women, she applied to be a presenter at Ignite Your Superpower, and so found her way to Women & Hi Tech. She has since exhibited at the event three times. “It’s an incredible experience to connect with young women who are excited to be in that space, and to have an opportunity to connect with other women who have a passion for serving girls and young women.” She also connected with the Women & Hi Tech Board, and was invited to judge the organizations 20th Anniversary scholarships in 2019 and the 2020 Leading Light Awards scholarships and grants.

    “The first time I judged, I was taken back by the lack of diversity in the applicant pool,” Morton said. She shared that feedback with leadership of the organization around the same time that Women & Hi Tech made a stronger commitment to diversity in its mission and actions. “What impressed me judging again only a year later was the immense shift in the diversity of nominees. That doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes intention, and action, and showed me that Women & Hi Tech was living its commitment to diversity and equity, rather than just virtue signaling with words.”

    When considering joining the Board of Directors in the role of K-12 Outreach, Crystal weighed her jam-packed schedule against the opportunity. “After speaking on the Special Edition EWF’s Diversity panel in February, I knew the organization was in line not just with my values, but with my feeling that we have done enough talking about inequities. It’s time for action.” Being unanimously voted onto the Board of an organization traditionally focused on hard STEM fields also signaled to her that Women & Hi Tech was headed in a direction she wanted to join. “Though I’m a math teacher, I have often been devalued by other STEM professionals due to the education element. So being invited was encouraging because I know the STEM lens I bring to the table is important, and it showed they know that, too.”

    Crystal says this is especially true when it comes to the accelerating conversation around the STEM talent pipeline. “Pipeline to what?” she asks. “Is it really helping anything to encourage young women, or students of color, to love STEM, only to leave them to be eaten alive in a classroom setting? Or in their first job?”

    Morton asserts that the professionals at the front of the classroom are either disrupting systems of bias and racism or allowing them to be perpetuated. “Until we deal with those deep issues, inequity is going to be the reality. We have to deal with issues of inequities in our K-12 schools. “For example, if by 5th grade, you have labeled a young Black girl as not being capable of excelling in STEM subjects, what impact will that have on her STEM trajectory? How do her K-12 learning experiences support or hinder her progress to becoming a major decision-maker around the corporate table? Additionally, what message is sent to White students when their humanity is valued and protected, and they witness Black learners and other learners of Color being treated in dehumanizing ways?”

    These are some of the realities that must be shifted to create lasting change. Additionally, it is important for White allies (males and females) to do the work with other White people and not burden diverse people, including women of Color, with this additional responsibility.

    Crystal says the most encouraging part of her involvement in Women & Hi Tech is how the organization motivates each member toward the action they are capable of, today, to create a more inclusive STEM landscape. Crystal looks forward to helping Women & Hi Tech advance its mission of changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all by engaging girls and young women, including those historically marginalized in STEM fields, to step into power and their rightful seats at the decision-making table.

  • 08/31/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    When Ben Phillips became an accountant, he didn’t expect the role would also lead him to opportunities to promote diversity and equity of women. But he was prepared to seize those moments when they came. As the son of two math professors, he appreciates the impact his parents had in both the home and the academic community to the development of individuals in STEM fields and promoting equity.

    As Phillips himself enrolled at Purdue to study engineering, he grew even more aware and appreciative of his privilege. “I got to go to a great STEM high school in West Lafayette. I had a very affordable college education and inherited drive from the parents who made it possible for me. As I got older, I clearly recognized that most people didn’t have all these benefits, and I knew I had to pursue volunteer opportunities that would make a difference.” He also decided not to become an engineer. “I realized I was more interested in how a business worked than how an engine worked.”

    After graduating from Purdue, Phillips was employed at Katz Sapper Miller (KSM) for two years before moving around the Midwest to cities like Minneapolis and Chicago, always maintaining a job as a certified public accountant (CPA), before returning to Indy. Today, he is a director with KSM specializing in auditing IT security. “The landscape of tools and technology has changed the way our clients and we approach solving problems,” he explains. “There’s a lot more info out on the Web than ever before. When our clients do business with certain customers, their end-user is expecting certain standards to protect their data will be upheld. That’s where I come in, to help them prove it.”

    This might be the day-to-day work of Phillips’s role, but he also takes the role of male ally very seriously. “You can be on board with the ideas of diversity and equity, or you can be committed to actually doing something to make them happen. It’s the switch between, I’m still going to sit on this committee and be engaged, versus the decision to go do something else. At the end of the day, that’s the difference—men must be willing to get uncomfortable and invest their time to elevate others.”

    In his roles at multiple accounting firms, Ben has been closely involved with recruiting. For any organization looking to attract more diverse talent, he has one insight: “You have to show up with diversity to attract diversity. If you want your company to look a certain way in five years, you have to bring that to the table now and make your commitment apparent to students and those in the talent pipeline.”

    He cites the presence of an incredible number of support organizations as a sign that progress is occurring. Organizations like Girls Stem Institute, Women in STEM through Indiana University, Girls, Inc. of Greater Indianapolis Eurkea! Scholars program, Women in Engineering Program through Purdue University, Ivy Tech Community College Youth Programs, Pass the Torch for Women – the list can go on. “What is still needed is a continuance of male allies in the environment,” he adds. “When the programs to advance diversity are female-oriented or minority-oriented, it doesn’t take the conversation to the men in the space and make them change their perspective on their terms. It puts the burden on the marginalized to prove they deserve a chance, versus putting the burden on those in power to share the opportunity.”

    Across all the organizations he mentioned, Phillips chose to join the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors as Treasurer because the organization puts action behind ideas in a way that aligns with his personal values. “When I volunteer, I want to spend my time trying to do something that will really drive change. Women & Hi Tech is moving the needle every month. Meetings and events are diverse, and board meetings every month reveal a lot of consistent movement toward our goals. That lets me elevate myself to a new level,” stated Phillips.

    He’s especially pleased to see that at the Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala on October 1, 2020 Women & Hi Tech will be awarding over $50,000 in scholarships and grants to women and girls pursuing STEM fields. “When some people have more benefit than others, creating the literal opportunity to go to school or learn a trade helps organizations like our sponsors put funding behind these values and create real change.”

    As Treasurer, some of Phillips’s goals are to help Women & Hi Tech increase transparency and create the framework needed to diversify funding. “We currently don’t apply for grants—but if we did, different grants would have financial compliance requirements. So, establishing a process and helping everyone understand the right questions to ask is part of moving forward. My direct skill set of working with efficiency and focus to help us advance is something I already do with clients.”

    That effort won’t just help more women achieve funding and support to enter the STEM talent network, but will also sustain Women & Hi Tech as an organization. “Currently, we are an all-volunteer board with no paid staff. Our first hire will be a huge milestone for the organization. We will further develop our infrastructure and create a more inclusive STEM landscape to all involved—our members, volunteers, employees, board members, and, most importantly, the communities and populations still in need of support.” Overall, the mission of Women & Hi Tech pursues a demonstrable increase in the number of girls and women positively impacted to further their education & experience in STEM fields.

  • 08/29/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    There are so many reasons I love being a part of Women & Hi Tech. From the professional networking and development opportunities to the community outreach work within STEM education, Women & Hi Tech has made me more confident in my career and allowed me to positively impact women STEM professionals. In my 35 year engineering career I have learned that it is not as important to move up as your career progresses as it is to move out and have your circle of influence build. Adding skills and experience, as well as increasing complexity of work, can lead to a huge sense of fulfillment, a fun learning curve, and constant challenges.

    I planned the July ’20 Executive Women’s Forum with the goal of conveying that sometimes leveraging a skill by stepping out into a non-traditional STEM field can lead to work that is enriching and fun. In other words, it increases your circle of influence. Construction was our spotlight. I had several attendees reach out to me after the panel discussion communicating they had never thought to use their project management, problem solving or leadership skills in this industry. They thought you had to know how to complete an engineering design, pour concrete, wire a building, install framing or weld piping. While those direct skills are definitely critical for construction; project planning, organizing, communication, financial control and problem solving (to only name a few) are just as important. Attendees conveyed they had light bulbs go off on how to think differently about where they can leverage their skills and provide value.

    Transferable skills are vitally important in today’s work environment. My STEM skills have allowed me to successfully design, construct, manage projects, lead staff, run operations, consult as well as chair non-profit boards. Who would have thought one chemical engineering degree could be leveraged across this breath of work! It has made me feel empowered and independent.

    I enjoyed collaborating with the Executive Women in Finance team of Nickie Redick and Chaleise Fleming to jointly provide a forum that shared a new avenue to exploit STEM skills. I am thankful our awesome and distinguished panel – Jeanne Fuqua (CH Barnett), Sarah Hempstead (Schmidt Associates), Phil Kenney (Wilhelm), Melanie King (Hagerman) and Brittney Turner (Wilhelm) – contributed their considerable expertise and time to our program. As I transition to the President-Elect role within Women & Hi Tech I intend to continue doing my best to be a mentor, to advance women in their STEM pursuits and to support a robust STEM pipeline of talent in Indiana. I encourage those who were not able to attend virtually the day of the event to check out the recording on Women & Hi Tech’s YouTube channel!

    Best Regards, 

    Linda Hicks, Women & Hi Tech President-Elect

  • 08/10/2020 8:30 AM | Anonymous

    In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure the health and safety of our members, sponsors, and supporters, Women & Hi Tech is excited to announce the first-ever Virtual Leading Light Awards (LLAs) and Scholarship Gala to be held on October 1, 2020 from 6:30-8:30pm (EST). Typically held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom with 600-700 guests, this signature, biennial event by Women & Hi Tech focuses on celebrating Indiana women in STEM - women who are risk-takers, leaders, educators, mentors, and those who are changing our local STEM landscape. In addition, and new this year at the 2020 LLAs, Women & Hi Tech will focus on “Equity and Inclusion” in STEM, by recognizing our male allies, as well as our diversity, equity, and inclusion champions. In honor of this 20th Anniversary of the first Leading Light Awards – originally the Spotlight Awards - and the incorporation of the organization, Women & Hi Tech is also thrilled to be awarding over $50,000 of scholarships and grants to women and girls in Indiana pursuing STEM fields through its #LLA20for20 scholarship and grant campaign.

    Women & Hi Tech is also pleased to announce Sarah Jones, an award-winning all-platform journalist for WTHR Channel 13News, as the new emcee for the Virtual LLAs and Scholarship Gala on October 1, 2020. Prior to the 2020 Women & Hi Tech Virtual LLAs and Scholarship Gala, Ms. Jones had over a decade of experience in news media in the U.S. and all over the world, including Turkey, Netherlands, South Sudan, Czech Republic, England, Dubai, Canada, and more. Ms. Jones has also worked for major international news networks, including CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera America. Ms. Jones earned her B.A. in Communications from Lake Forest College and a Masters with Merit in International Broadcast Journalism from City University in London.

    Women & Hi Tech is thrilled to have Ms. Jones’ engagement and support of the 2020 Virtual Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala as we celebrate female STEM leaders, and the benefits and advantages of “Equity and Inclusion” on the robust pipeline of talent in the Indiana STEM community. The mission of Women & Hi Tech is to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.

    About Sarah Jones:
    Ms. Jones recently joined WTHR Channel 13News as a “one-WOMAN-band” meaning she films, edits, writes, produces, and reports her own pieces and material. Ms. Jones has also advised senior level military personnel and government officials in the US and allied countries on social media technologies. Ms. Jones’ global travels as a journalist has fueled her deep appreciation for diverse cultures and traditions. Ms. Jones was named by Friends of Europe as one of the top twenty North American Young Leaders, and was also voted Best Journalist in Social Media at the Sixth Annual Shorty Awards.

    Ms. Jones has been recognized as an International Women's Media Foundation fellow, a two time International Reporting Project Fellow, and is among the top forty female social media influencers for conversations surrounding artificial intelligence. Ms. Jones received the Women Economic Forum's highest honor on International Women's Day, 2018 in Hague where she was named as one of their "Women of the Decade" in News & Social Engagement. Selected as one of the top one thousand most influential Twitter profiles, Ms. Jones also continues to serve as an Online Media Awards judge and Skoll World Forum delegate since 2015. Proudly, Ms. Jones founded Remembering Fallen Journalists, an online movement to honor those who have died while bearing witness, which reached over 9 million people in its first year.

    Ms. Jones is personally passionate about access to education, social entrepreneurship, and women's rights, access to clean water and sanitation, as well as ethical fashion and products. Ms. Jones has also won awards in fencing and Tae Kwon Do.

    About Women & Hi Tech:
    Women & Hi Tech is a 501(c)3 charitable organization founded in Indianapolis in 1999 by Eli Lilly scientist, Joyce Gustafson, and Indiana University academic, Georgia Miller. Over the last two decades, Women & Hi Tech has blazed a trail for supporting, recognizing, and advancing outstanding women and girls pursuing STEM fields in Indiana. In that time, Women & Hi Tech has become a pillar of the local STEM community through its educational, professional development, recognition, mentoring, and networking programs, which provide valuable resources to champion collegiate and career women, along with STEM exposure opportunities for K-12 girls. A membership of almost 2000 professionals and students operated by an all-volunteer working Board of Directors and Emeritus, Women & Hi Tech is the only non-profit organization founded and focused in Indiana that is dedicated to changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. 

  • 07/30/2020 7:02 AM | Anonymous

    Rebecca BormannDear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends,

    According to the World Economic Forum, "less than a third of female students choose to study higher education courses in subjects like math and engineering." Unfortunately, this is not a surprising statistic. The lack of women in STEM fields, including math and engineering, is precisely why Women & Hi Tech exists - to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.

    Countless studies and reports have attributed a lack of modeling for K-12 girls as one of the many reasons for the gender gap in STEM. The lack of modeling intensifies for our diverse girls. With increased exposure and modeling, K-12 girls have the chance to learn about all the exciting possibilities, unlimited opportunities, and the many personal and professional rewards to be achieved by choosing a path in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). When girls see a woman who looks like them in a STEM career, it bolsters their confidence and allows them to envision themselves belonging in STEM too.

    Women & Hi Tech's female engineers featured in this issue of Grown from STEM, inspired me to research famous female engineers. As I had suspected, women have been significant contributors to engineering innovation since the beginning. Case in point, we need more diverse female engineers today and in the future to continue to advance and innovate the field of engineering. How do we accomplish this goal?

    A small step is to learn, share, and make it part of our collective conversation. To celebrate and learn about the accomplishments of more female engineers, I am sharing a few of the women I learned about in my research.

    Dr. Willie Hobbs MooreDr. Willie Hobbs Moore was a physicist and engineer. She was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics in June 1972 at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation, directed by the renowned spectroscopist Samuel Krimm, was on the subject of "A Vibrational Analysis of Secondary Chlorides," and focused on a theoretical analysis of the secondary chlorides for polyvinyl-chlorine polymers. Moore held engineering positions at Bendix Aerospace Systems Division, Barnes Engineering Company, Sensor Dynamics Inc, and later became an Executive with Ford Motor Company. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Moore made major advancements in the quality methods and engineering technology at Ford and throughout the automotive industry. Dr. Moore was also extremely active in the advancement of STEM education for minorities. To read more about Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore, please visit:  https://aadl.org/aa_news_19910204-a_driving_force_at_ford and https://www.nsbp.org/en/cev/94.

    Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus, known as the "queen of carbon science,” was an American nanotechnologist. Dr. Dresselhaus earned her B.A. in Hunter College in 1951 and her Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 1958. She was an Institute Professor and Professor Emerita of physics and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 50 years. Dr. Dresselhaus' research made fundamental discoveries in the electronic structure of semi-metals. Her work on using quantum structures to improve thermoelectric energy conversion reignited this research field. Dr. Dresselhaus was awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom (from President Barack Obama in 2014) and the National Medal of Science (from President George H.W. Bush in 1990). Dr. Dresselhaus is also well-known for her work to develop more opportunities for women in science and engineering. Please read more about Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus at http://news.mit.edu/2017/institute-professor-emerita-mildred-dresselhaus-dies-86-0221.

    Dr. Ellen OchoaDr. Ellen Ochoa is an engineer and former astronaut. She has earned a Bachelor's in Physics from San Diego State University, as well as a Master's in Science and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering both from Stanford University. While a researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Ochoa led a team working on optical systems for automated space exploration. She patented an optical system to detect defects in a repeating pattern, and is a co-inventor on three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method, and a method for noise removal in images respectively. In 1993, Dr. Ochoa was the first Hispanic person to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Dr. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic Director and second female Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Please read more about Ellen Ochoa at https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/about/people/orgs/bios/ochoa.html.

    I highly encourage our readers to share this newsletter about Women & Hi Tech's very own accomplished engineers along with these famous women engineers with your daughters, nieces, granddaughters, girl scout troops, and other K-12 girls in your lives. I hope these women - who are certainly changing the landscape of engineering and STEM to be equally inclusive to all - will serve as personification and inspiration for our girls that they too can be an engineer and leave their mark in STEM!

    In this 19th edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to two extremely accomplished engineering professionals in different STEM industries. We invite you to meet and get acquainted with our President-Elect, Linda Hicks, Vice President of Midwest Operations at EEC Horizon. We would also like to introduce you to one of our dedicated members, Poonam Gill, a Learning Design & Technology Grad Student at Purdue University. Please read more about Linda and Poonam and how their backgrounds, education, business acumen, and passion for developing and promoting the future generations of diverse female engineers and STEM professionals helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Kind Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    President, Women & Hi Tech
    Managing Director of Sales, Bell Techlogix

  • 07/28/2020 7:01 AM | Anonymous

    In our last profile of Linda Hicks, we shared the story of her career in chemical engineering, including that she was first inspired to become an engineer by her father, an electrical engineer. In high school, she got to visit Carnegie Mellon and learn about different types of engineering, solidifying her decision in a career. Today, it’s her commitment to sustain and grow the STEM talent pipeline of the future that has inspired her to become the President-Elect of Women & Hi Tech.

    “We need diverse people—age, culture, race, religion—to make teams successful. But finding all those elements when the pool of candidates in a specific skill set isn’t very robust is difficult,” Hicks said. In addition to Women & Hi Tech, Hicks is a Board Member of other youth-oriented organizations like Techpoint Foundation for Youth and Every Girl Can STEM. Hicks’ passion is to get young people interested in pursuing STEM careers. “We have to solve the problem, not the symptom. The problem is that a lot of young people shy away from STEM, particularly when kids have had little to no exposure to all the possibilities and opportunities a path in STEM can offer. There’s a perception these careers are tough and there’s not enough education and support for students to feel capable of the challenge,” Hicks explained. “Once a student gets a taste of what’s possible, what they can create or achieve with some math or science, they can shift their paradigm to feeling empowered. Techpoint Foundation for Youth’s state robotics program is a great example of this. Students who have participated in this program have shared their excitement with me - that learning how to make a robot has made an impact for them by giving them confidence in their math and science capabilities. “

    Linda was a member of Women & Hi Tech for five years before joining the Board of Directors. Since that time, she has served on the Board as the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) Director for the past two years. “The more I met other women who came through the same trenches, the better I felt. Our organization is unique because we are all like-minded and tough, regardless of our specific academic or STEM backgrounds. We all keep pushing forward in work situations when a woman’s voice isn’t always that welcome. The value we bring to each other is helping each other persevere,”said Hicks.

    Hicks plans to leverage her skills developing and implementing growth plans to help Women & Hi Tech execute on the next phase of its potential. “We continue to have a growth strategy because we know our messaging and mission is beneficial to women in STEM. We have collected feedback from our membership about our programming and the value it provides to our members, sponsors, partners and friends. We want to expand that value across Indiana and STEM, especially into science & engineering. We are exploring opportunities to do so,” she explained.

    Feedback from our membership has revealed how Women & Hi Tech serves current professionals and future STEM talent alike. Hicks shared, “we know members find value in our network of diverse people that are here to support, encourage, and help give you a push to get to the next level, take a step out or step up, or speak up for yourself. We provide great professional development and opportunities to network. Anyone struggling with a difficult career situation and needs advice or is looking for a job and wanting to understand other career opportunities, can find someone in our organization who has shared that experience and can help.”

    When asked about the future of Women & Hi Tech, Hicks said “sharing experiences and education is key for personal growth today, and to ensure STEM fields have diverse talent now and in the future. To grow today’s professionals and tomorrow’s workforce, it is important to get the message out that STEM jobs are achievable, challenging, and full of potential for everyone. With more focused education and outreach to our youth, our communities and our nation will be more self-sufficient in the technologies that matter to us.”

    LinkedIn Profile

  • 07/28/2020 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    Poonam Gill started out in STEM thinking that if she could just get to a playing field at a high-enough level, there would be women there with her. After graduating from Purdue as an electrical engineer in 2003, she was hired by a global manufacturer out of Chicago. But there were still very few women in the room. After being surprised for a little bit, Gill took action. “After about a year I approached my manager about ‘Introduce a girl to engineering day.’” They liked this idea and told Gill to run with it. Gill explained, “we partnered with local schools to show middle and high school girls about innovation in engineering.”

    As Gill puts it, “With that, my spark was lit.” After five years she began teaching children ages 4-14 about engineering concepts and problem-solving skills, and then transitioned into nonprofit leadership. “Having the engineering background lets me use my voice and my experiences to close the widening gender gap in STEM,” said Gill. Shel is currently a graduate student in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University. She says, “My hope is that my professional and personal goals will bridge a gap between engineering and education.”

    As part of our 20th Anniversary celebration in August 2019, Women & Hi Tech awarded Gill a Nonprofit Executive Leadership professional development grant. “I believe Women & Hi Tech is looking at investing in the next generation of leaders and I’m really grateful,” Poonam said. “I got involved with Women & Hi Tech because I wanted to be part of an organization where I knew their efforts included outreach to introduce young girls to STEM.” Through volunteering with Women & Hi Tech last year, Gill got to lead a group of female middle school students through the Ignite Your Superpower activities and answer their questions about STEM professionals, life, and college experiences.

    As much as these interventions are essential, Gill believes that one-off events don’t close the gap with consistency. Gill further explained, “Women & Hi Tech does a great job of getting equitable opportunities to girls across central Indiana to see role models in STEM and share access to STEM. But in school, if those opportunities aren’t reinforced, it won’t stick.” In partnership with other organizations, such as Women & Hi Tech, Gill is also a member of Every Girl Can STEM who is championing a project to start an all-girls STEM school in Indiana.

    “We can improve engagement for girls in STEM through instructional interventions,” Poonam says with confidence. “We need to focus on encouraging a growth mindset for girls and celebrating hard work and persistence. It’s okay to fail, and that’s also part of the engineering design process. You test and improve over time.”

    Gill explained how even addressing the gender disparity in STEM is a process of learning and experimentation. “Over the last 5-6 years especially, there has been more emphasis on opportunities for women and for more inclusion. But data shows the gender gap persists. That is why everyday messaging to girls in the classroom, versus a few exposure opportunities a year, is so important.”

    Poonam is excited to stay involved with Women & Hi Tech because she knows developing the current and future talent pipeline is a mission she shares with the organization. “If we really want to permanently change the landscape, that includes being focused on building the pipeline of future females in a really thoughtful and strategic way.” As resources like digital conferencing and events make it more possible to bring people together across great distances, Gill sees even more potential for STEM professionals to share knowledge in ways that advance their goals. “We need to build a pipeline for the future and also help women today get to leadership and decision-making roles,” she sums it up. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but we can do it together.”

    LinkedIn Profile

  • 07/19/2020 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    In support of our mission to ensure STEM is equally inclusive to all, Women & Hi Tech was excited to partner with the Indianapolis Professional Association (IPA) to award three book scholarships to local, African American women pursuing STEM at the collegiate level. Along with all 15-20 IPA book scholarship recipients, Women & Hi Tech would like to congratulate the following young ladies who are graduates of the Class of 2020, exceptional examples of academic excellence, and therefore, each was selected as a recipient of a $500 IPA/Women & Hi Tech book scholarship as well as a 1-year free membership to Women & Hi Tech. The book scholarships were awarded to students by Women & Hi Tech Past President, Angela B. Freeman, during IPA’s first virtual event that was held yesterday in lieu of its annual Spring Youth Empowerment and Achievement Awards Breakfast. Congratulations again to Lore, Cicely, and Iyonna for pursuing your STEM career aspirations! Women & Hi Tech is excited to support you!

    Lore Akinola Afolabi
    Crispus Attucks High School graduate, pursuing a career as a General Surgeon at Marian University.

    Cicely Miller
    North Central High School graduate, attending Xavier University in Louisiana to pursue a career as an OB/GYN.


    Iyonna Evans
    Arsenal Tech High School graduate, pursuing biology and forensics at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

    IPA was founded in October, 1984 by six far-sighted attorneys and a judge who were members of the Marion County Bar Association, a legal professional organization, comprised of mostly African American attorneys. IPA’s mission is, To promote and develop the education and economy of African Americans and to encourage others to do so To be a network for African Americans to gather and to discuss and exchange ideas To afford assistance and training to African Americans and others in various professions, businesses and occupations To act as role models and mentors for African-Americans and others throughout the community. 

    To learn more about IPA, please visit https://www.ipaindy.org/

  • 07/01/2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Indianapolis, IN (July 1, 2020)–Women & Hi Tech is pleased to announce the Board of Directors for the term that commenced on July 1, 2020.

    Elected Officers of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:

    • President: Rebecca Bormann, Managing Director of Sales and Services, Bell Techlogix, Inc.
    • President-Elect: Linda Hicks, Vice President of Midwest Operations for ECC Horizon
    • Treasurer: Ben Phillips, Director, Katz, Sapper & Miller
    • Secretary: Kelly Ragle, Manager, Project Management Office, Lev

    Elected Directors of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:

    • Collegiate Outreach Director: Merri Beth Lavagnino, Executive Director, Compliance & Privacy, Indiana University Health Plan
    • Communications Director: Lori Boyer, Software Engineer, Barnes & Thornburg LLP
    • Community Outreach Director: Allison Lipps, Research Operations Coordinator, Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center, Inc.
    • Corporate Engagement Director: Joy Neely, Central Area, Regional Business Manager, Roche Diagnostic Information Solutions
    • Executive Women's Forum Director: Linda Calvin, Vice President, School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College
    • K-12 Outreach Director: Crystal Morton, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, Indiana University School of Education - Indianapolis
    • Leading Light Awards Director: Lauryn Andrews, Consultant, netlogx
    • Membership Administrator: Carol Ganz, Director of Client Experiences, Six Feet Up, Inc.
    • Networking Events Director: Maria Alvim-Gaston Ph.D., Advisor – MIH Talent Development Academy Medicines Innovation Hub, Eli Lilly and Company
    • Past President: Angela B. Freeman, Intellectual Property/Patent Attorney, Barnes & Thornburg LLP
    • Volunteer Director: Karen Harris, Vice President & Information Officer Manufacturing and Quality, Eli Lilly and Company

    Elected Active Emeritus of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:

    Elected Emeritus of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:
    • Jo Basey, Retired, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University Angie Engel, Sales Executive, Perficient
    • Gail Farnsley, VP, Executive Partner, Gartner
    • Deb Hallberg, CEO, Pass the Torch for Women Foundation
    • Tonya Hanshew, Proposal Management Team Lead - OLS, Veeva Systems
    • Rajinder Heir, Consultant, Electronic Strategies Inc.
    • Ali Hromis, Release Manager, Salesforce
    • Bobbie LaFollette, Senior Business Analyst, Baker Hill
    • Melissa Lavella, Senior Quality Supervisor, Roche Diagnostics
    • Patsy Lentz, Retired Business Development Professional
    • Wendy Maple, Outreach Consultant, netlogx
    • Jane Richardson, Executive Director, IT Strategy and Corporate Strategic Alignment, Cummins Inc.
    • Audrey Taylor, Founder, and CEO, netlogx
    • Tiffany Trusty, President, Trusty Applications and Manager, Mobile Medial Apps, Eli Lilly and Company

    "Women & Hi Tech is excited to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors, including Crystal Morton, Linda Calvin, and Ben Phillips, and to announce Linda Hicks as President-Elect," said Rebecca Bormann, President of Women & Hi Tech.

    Rebecca further commented, "Women & Hi Tech's passionate and committed all-volunteer working Board of Directors, Active Emeritus, and Emeritus members work diligently to promote our mission to recruit, retain, and advance the best and brightest female STEM talent in Indiana. We are excited to welcome Ben, Crystal, and Linda to our voting Board of Directors this year, which will make the most diverse Board we’ve ever had in our over 20 year history. We are pleased that Women & Hi Tech is not just talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community, but demonstrating inclusion in our membership and Board leadership structure. Through continuing our signature Women & Hi Tech programming, as well as executing the goals of our most recent 2-year strategic plan, we are looking forward to the 2020-2021 year to further our mission and serve our members, sponsors, partners, and friends in the Indiana STEM community."

    Rebecca also noted that "this year is the 20th anniversary of Women & Hi Tech's Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala (LLAs). One of the ways we are honoring this milestone, while also advancing our mission of equity and inclusion in the STEM fields, is with the introduction of two new Leading Light Awards - the Equity and Inclusion Champion and OperationAllTM Male Allies awards. In addition, we are looking forward to recognizing female STEM leaders, educators, mentors, risk-takers, achievers, innovators, and landscape-changers on October 1, 2020. We are also beyond delighted to award over $50,000 in scholarships and grants to females in Indiana pursuing STEM. Lifting up and supporting our future generations of female STEM leaders, including diverse female leaders, is crucial to advance our mission. We appreciate and thank our sponsors for making these scholarships and grants available, along with our members that have contributed to our #INThisTogether Scholarship, Women & Hi Tech's first-ever member-funded scholarship. Thank you!”

    To view the biographies of Women & Hi Tech's board members, visit the website at womenandhitech.org/board.

  • 06/29/2020 12:02 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends,

    It’s been an absolutely fantastic and fruitful year for Women & Hi Tech!  As my final formal address to you, the membership of Women & Hi Tech, as your President, I’d like to take a moment to discuss what we’ve accomplished as an organization over this last year, and why I am so proud and excited to have had the opportunity to lead this organization at what I now believe to be a pivotal period in our organization’s and our nation’s history.

    First, let’s just address the elephant in the room, it’s officially summer 2020 and beautiful outside, but we’re still having meetings and events via videoconference due to the unprecedented challenges and crises we are currently experiencing in light of COVID-19 and the civil and racial unrest and protests in this country.  Never, in my lifetime, has there been a time when STEM was more important for the literal health, safety, and survival of citizens, businesses, and organizations of this country before now.  The members, sponsors, and supporters of Women & Hi Tech have also been leading the nation in driving innovations related to diseases and infections, such as COVID-19, from our organization’s infancy, and now is no different.  

    But well beyond our technical expertise, the members, sponsors, and supporters of Women & Hi Tech have continued to lead this community and this nation on the larger more global and humanitarian issues, such as systemic racism, unconscious and conscious biases, inequities, disparities, and prejudices against diverse people in this country, like women.  As an African-American woman, it is not lost on me that diversity, equity, and inclusion “of all” includes civil and equal rights for people of color, our Dreamers, as well as our LGBTQ+ members, which was just confirmed by our U.S. Supreme Court in a decision issued this June pride month.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion “of all” is necessary for everyone to have a fair opportunity to “live their best lives,” and provide their authentic and unique contributions to the excellence fostered by this great country.

    I am just so proud of this organization, whose leadership and membership recognized years ago, that gender and racial disparities and inequities are absolutely real, particularly in STEM.  And, we made it our mission to do something about it.  Before every company in America just made it their mission to issue a solidarity, equality, or “Black Lives Matter” statement, Women & Hi Tech changed its whole mission statement three years ago to specifically state that STEM in Indiana must be “equally inclusive to all.”  The Board confirmed this mission statement in a recent 2-year strategic planning meeting, and more importantly, we’ve been putting action behind it for years, but particularly this past year.

    From volunteering at Ignite Your Superpower, to hosting Special Edition Executive Women’s Forums (EWF) about diverse women in STEM or OperationAll to empower our male allies, to attending a 2-day Interrupting Racism for Our Children diversity training, to partnering with diverse media outlets, such as the Indianapolis Recorder, and funding academic and book scholarships, along with computer grants for diverse girls and women in STEM through several community partnerships, to even diversifying our scholarship and grant portfolio to be more accessible to diverse populations and ensuring that we include diverse leaders and experts on our award, scholarship, and grant selection committees – Women & Hi Tech has gotten very serious and actionable about being more diverse, equitable, and inclusive at all levels, and within our own organization as well.

    Notably, Women & Hi Tech got on this bandwagon long ago, before it was the cool thing to do.  In fact, capitalizing off the momentum garnered at our 20th Anniversary celebration in 2019 where we awarded the largest amount of scholarships and grants in the organization’s history to diverse women all across this state to publicly announcing that the theme for the 2020 Leading Light Awards on October 1st, which we’ve been planning since last year, is “Equity and Inclusion” - we recognized that equity and inclusion are real gaps in our STEM professional fields and in the fabric of our country, and we have positioned ourselves to address it.  So, as my last act as President of this awesome, premiere organization of STEM professionals in Indiana, I am excited to invite you all to support our incoming Board leadership team who will continue to perpetuate Women & Hi Tech’s mission of “changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.”

    More specifically, on July 1, 2020, Rebecca Bormann will become our new President.  I can think of no one more passionate, purposeful, or prepared than Rebecca to lead our organization and continue to promote Women & Hi Tech’s mission to ensure that STEM in Indiana  is “equally inclusive to all.”  Rebecca is also highly driven to ensure that diversity of thought amongst organizational leadership is utilized to provide safe, effective, and relevant programming and events that meet our membership’s needs and expectations over this next year in light of COVID-19.  We welcome Rebecca’s powerful leadership.

    In addition to the remaining Directors on the Women & Hi Tech Board who will keep their current roles, Linda Hicks will transition from EWF Director to become our next President-Elect.  We also have three new Board members, including Ben Phillips as Treasurer, Linda Calvin as EWF Director, and Crystal Morton as our K-12 Director.  This 2020-2021 Women & Hi Tech Board is particularly exciting to me because, in addition to introducing exceptionally talented STEM leaders in our community to our board - namely Ben, Linda and Crystal, that already live and breathe our mission - we will also increase the diversity on the voting Board of Directors, such that over 33% or 5 of the 15 voting Directors are not Caucasian women.  

    This will also make the most diverse Board of Directors in the history of Women & Hi Tech.  While we understand that we should not become complacent until our Board reflects the diversity of our full membership, the diversity and expertise of this upcoming Board of Directors is a milestone and a major positive step in a very tangible and timely way.  I am so excited and proud of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors for taking real action to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion not just within our community, but within the ranks of our own organization focused on STEM facets, such as technology.

    In this 18th edition of “Grown from STEM,” Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to two outstanding technology professionals in different business facets of the STEM industry.  We invite you to meet and better get to know our President-Elect and Incoming President, Rebecca Bormann, a Managing Director of Sales & Services at Bell Techlogix.  We would also like to introduce you to Carrie Taylor, one of our most dedicated members who received an honorable mention as the 2019 Women & Hi Tech Volunteer of the Year.  Carrie is an Execution Lead in the IT department at Eli Lilly & Co.  Please read more about Rebecca and Carrie and how their backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for developing and promoting technology helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Most Sincerely and Final Farewell,

    Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
    President, Women & Hi Tech

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